written by John MesserlyRead Isaiah 25 and John 2
"On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines." - Isaiah 25:6, NIV
"Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." - John 2:10
I was reading in John the other day, and was struck by this passage. Jesus's first miracle involved turning water to wine at a wedding; and not just any wine, the finest wine. The wine was so good, in fact, that it puzzled the master of ceremonies, because saving such good wine until the end of the feast wasn't typical.
On the surface, this miracle showed Jesus's supernatural power over nature; his ability to change the chemical composition of one substance (water, made simply of hydrogen and oxygen) into a wholly different substance (wine, made of complex molecules that contain not only hydrogen and oxygen, but also carbon, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese,... you get the point). But contained within the miracle was an object lesson: God wanted to point out that His Son, Jesus, had arrived and begun his earthly ministry. God had sent many prophets and messengers before Christ to lead, reprove, and exhort His people, but He had saved the best, the finest, His well-beloved Son, for last. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, even John the Baptist - they were all vastly inferior wine compared to the full-bodied blend of God and man that the Father was serving up.
Many fail to realize that the beauty of Christianity is completely manifested in Christ. He is our all in all, He is our Savior, He is our life. There's an old song that says "take the world, but give me Jesus"; I wonder how many Christians would be able to take that a step further and say "Take heaven, but give me Jesus." All too frequently Christians perceive our salvation as fire insurance; God set up rules, we broke them, so He felt bad and sent Jesus so that we could have a way to escape fiery anguish and instead be rewarded with a city paved with gold. That's not the case; if it were, it would mean that everything is about us, that we are the center of time and the universe, and that everything is made for our pleasure.
Heaven, even if it does have literal golden streets, is nothing without Christ there. Heaven is not our inheritance - Ephesians 1 tells us that Christ Himself is our inheritance. We look forward to heaven not because it's going to be free from the ravages of sin we see in this world (thorns, mosquitoes, pain), nor because it is going to be better than even the best this world can offer; we look forward to heaven because Christ will be there. Going to heaven means being freed of the separation imposed by these sinful prisons we call bodies and being united with Christ, to worship and fellowship with Him forevermore.
Isaiah talks of the future kingdom, and describes the Lord Almighty setting forth a feast for His people, "a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines." I know that when I get to heaven, I'm not going to be taken up with the food, even if God has somehow managed to improve on filet mignon. My focus will be hanging out with Christ, the finest Wine, and drinking Him in for all of eternity. I hope you can say the same.